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Source: Newsday

Southampton sacks retailers' plastic bags

BY STACEY ALTHERR

Posted: April 28, 2011
Originally Published: April 27, 2011

Attention shoppers: Southampton Village is sacking the plastic bag.

In a 5-0 vote, the village board on Tuesday passed a resolution this week prohibiting retailers from using the nonbiodegradable bags. Businesses have about six months to start using paper or reusable bags. Produce bags and plastic bags of a heavier weight are exempt.

Violators face a $1,000 fine and up to 14 days in jail, consistent with the village's current penalties.

According to the nonprofit Citizens Campaign for the Environment, an advocacy group with offices in New York State and Connecticut that has been monitoring the issue statewide, Southampton is the first municipality in New York State to institute a ban. There is a similar ban in Westport, Conn., the group said.

"We can no longer view plastic bags as an item of cheap convenience; they are an enemy to thousands of marine and avian species," Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the group, said in a statement.


Village officials said the bags are also a public littering nuisance. Southampton Mayor Mark Epley noted that it's not uncommon to see plastic bags blowing in the wind or strewn along streets, parks or beaches.

"Every day, my wife or myself walk on the beach, and we will find a plastic bag," he said.

Village officials had been considering a ban for a year, Epley said. Southampton Advocates for the Village Environment, a committee that promotes environmental initiatives, presented the idea to the board.

Though environmental groups cheered the change, lobbyists representing grocers and manufacturers of plastic bags, including the American Chemistry Council, spoke out against the measure two weeks ago at a public hearing, Epley said.

Many storekeepers along Main Street were either resigned to the new law or already use paper bags. Some lamented the expense of paper bags, but others welcomed the change. BookHampton bookstore is already using paper bags, said manager Amy Katz.

"I think it's great," she said Wednesday of the ban. "This will clean things up a bit."